Jeff Siegel's Analysis for Sunday, Dec. 27, 2009

On opening day yesterday the main track played pretty much like expected – an edge to closers with the outside lanes slightly preferred. Malibu Stakes winner M One Rifle did win gate-to-wire with a relatively soft trip on the front end, but the player should continue to promote the stalkers and closers and slightly favor those leaving from an outside post.

Today’s card is loaded with potentially lucrative plays but you’ll have to wait until the second race to get one, as the opener doesn’t offer any value whatsoever. #7 Bullfighter is listed as the 3/5 morning line choice and almost has to fall down to lose. Let’s move on.

The second race is far more interesting and brings back Jim Cassidy’s exciting young turf prospect #4 Kid Edward for his second career start. In his debut, the son of Singspiel was given a nice educational experience in a turf sprint at Hollywood Park and responded to finish like a freight train in the final sixteenth when finally allowed to stretch his legs. It was a perfect prep for the juvenile colt, who figures to move up a ton with that effort under his belt. Stretching out to a much more favorable trip and retaining Flores, the Irish-bred colt is listed at 8-1 on the morning line and will be value for even half that price. He’s our most probable winner on the program.

The third race boils down to the two morning line favorites , #2 Scottish Diamond and #5 Six Pack Abs. The former, from the Mullins barn, loves the Pro Ride surface and his recent form is a picture of consistency. Baze should have him on or near the lead throughout. Six Pack Abs takes a sharp drop in class for Sadler, removes blinkers, and switches to Rosario. He’s 3-for-9 lifetime at Santa Anita and should return to form at his favorite track at this lower level.

The California Breeders’ Champion Stakes for juvenile fillies came up soft with the defection of La Nez, who took on the boys yesterday. Any one of the six starters could win, so we’d suggest you use as many as you can afford to in your rolling exotics. #2 Evening Jewel just finished second to Caracortado in a fast allowance sprint at Hollywood Park and was flattered when that gelding came back to win a stakes yesterday. With Giant’s Causeway on the bottom of her pedigree, the Cassidy-trained filly should handle the extra ground. #4 Camille C has done enough to warrant favoritism – she’s won a stakes and placed in two others – but she’s not a standout on numbers and thus could be vulnerable while making her 10th start of the year. #1 West Ruler is improving for Sadler and ran well routing over this track during the Oak Tree meeting, while #5 Salty Fires went up north and won the Corte Madera Stakes with a figure that fits with these. Simply put, this race is too tough to call.

The fifth race is no bargain, either. If you’re playing the rolling exotics, you probably should consider #6 Thunder Bluff (comebacker in the Ellis barn who has worked well and can fire fresh); #7 Polonius (a class dropper who ran well over the course two runs back at Oak Tree), #8 Big Wig (second off the layoff for Mullins and working like he’s ready for a forward move); and #11 Zappa (an old ex-classer who may have seen better days but still warrants a look in a race restricted to horses who have not won a race all year long). Looks like another spread race in the rolling exotics.

The sixth race brings out the fast working Baffert first timer #9 Irrefutable, a $600,000 two-year-old in training purchase who has trained like he’s fit and ready for his long awaited debut. Last year he was with Mullins and actually outworked I Want Revenge, which tells you something about his potential. With Gomez up and from an outside draw, the son of Unbridled’s Song looks like a very live item. The best of the known element is #6 Payment Approved, who owns better-than-par speed figures for the level but who has failed in nine previous starts. A good maiden will beat him and Irrefutable might be just that.

The San Gabriel Handicap goes as the seventh race and the defending champion #3 Proudinsky looks clearly the one to beat under the assumption the Lava Man will need one. Proudinsky is especially fond of the Santa Anita turf course and should fall into a comfortable second flight trip. He’s back with Bejarano, who rode him to victory in this race last year and perhaps significantly it was the last time these two teamed up. A case could be made for Julio’s #7 Loup Breton, who whipped a softer field in a race-shape aided affair at Hollywood Park in his U.S. debut, and the younger #1 Acclamation, whose third place effort in the Hollywood Derby was franked by The Usual Q. T.’s Sir Beaufort score yesterday. However, we’re going to single Proudinsky and hope for the best.

We’ll double the eighth race using #5 Bestdressed and #7 Wiredfortwotwenty and feel fairly confident one of the two will win. Bestdressed in a prototype late-running sprinter and continues in sharp form for Sadler, while Wiredfortwotwenty was a tad short in his comeback but won’t be today and lands the cozy outside post.

The nightcap is a much better than average maiden affair on turf and has several nice prospects, the best of which could be the Mullins-trained #7 Ace of Aces, who returns to the maiden ranks after finishing a respectable fifth in the Generous Stakes in his U.S. debut last month. He’s trained sharply since and with this drop into the maiden ranks he’ll be hard to handle. Also worth watching closely is #5 Sgt. Hitchens, a none-threatening eighth in his debut sprinting when given a run but likely to display vast improvement in a much more serious attempt today, and #11 Albany Road, a big colt who should continue to make progress with experience and goes with blinkers today following an exceptional recent workout for top grass trainer Christophe Clement.